Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lucian Freud

The nude has been the subject of artists from the very beginning. As long as images could be drawn,painted,sculpted or otherwise portrayed, the female nude figure has been the subject that has fascinated the artist.
In the attempts to use the female body as a subject, it has been idealized,stylized,sexualized,abstracted and distorted and most recently displayed in all her glorious ugliness. Reality has never been so real as it is today.

When artists began to depict the nude female in the 16th century, she is depicted as passive (not active like the male nude which was always used to represent the noble qualities of human kind) this suggests her availability to the male viewer. In fact, art until the 20th century was primarily for the pleasure of the male audience.

In these 19th century examples she is simply an object of male desire. Men are the sex that looks and women the sex that is looked at. The nude figures rarely have much personality; they exist simply to be contemplated and enjoyed.

The bareness of the naked body can sum up everything to which we aspire and everything we most fear. The body is the source of our deepest pleasures and traumas; our experience of the world is set by the way we experience our bodies. To be naked can mean humiliation, discomfort, or exposure, but it can also satisfy some of our most profound narcissistic and intimate needs. To see another person naked can reassure or alarm, satisfy curiosity or provoke guilt, arouse desire or disgust or both. The body preserves the memories of lost wholesomeness and carries the seeds of our death I would like to take you on a journey exploring the progress of the female figure in art through the centuries.
...the most important nude in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century Western painting was female. She fulfilled every fantasy for her bourgeois male consumer lying provocatively in bed or in her bath, sitting nude or half-clothed at her toilette table, cavorting in the landscape and embodying the muse for the male artist. She could even come alive to fulfill his fantasies, as in Jean-Leon Gerome's Pygmalion and Galatea Slave girl, harem dweller, prostitute, she could perform all manner of outrageous acts as long as her fictional innocence and the fantasy of her controlled status were maintained. In The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality, Lynda Nead states: "This is the symbolic importance of the female nude. It is the internal structural link that holds art and obscenity and an entire system of meaning together. . . . And while the female nude can behave well, it involves a risk and threatens to destabilize the very foundations of our sense of order."

Lucian Freud painting hits record high price of more than $35 million.

The urge to depict reality as opposed to idealized images of females or perfect bodies that permeate the mass media seems to me, to be the driving force behind Freud's art. His paintings, in the style of realism, give us more information on the nude female figure than we might want to know. Maybe that's what makes his art so controversial. Do we really want to stare at the imperfect female body or do we want to turn away? Although we might have no trouble viewing a Lucian Freud nude in an art gallery, would we want to look at one everyday on the wall in our lounge room?

1 comment:

BEAJ said...

I just think that Lucien Freud, a grandson of Sigmund, knew that there were fat fetish people in the world with money.
Whoever spent the big money on it now can look at the picture in their own home and get a woody looking at it any time he wants to.